In a second season episode of Larry David’s HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry is caught whistling a Wagner tune outside of a film premier and is accused of being a self-hating Jew. On the show it’s all for laughs; “I do hate myself, but it has nothing to do with being Jewish!” Larry quips, borrowing from Woody Allen. But for many, the issue of Richard Wagner’s antisemitism and the effect it should have on our appreciation of his music is deadly serious business.
The problem is once again rising to the surface, thanks to the L.A. Opera’s upcoming Ring Festival. Starting in April, the festival will include art exhibitions, lectures and performances, but its main event will be a $32 million production of Wagner’s complete Ring cycle, which will take place from May 29 to June 26. In a recent piece for the L.A. Times, Reed Johnson outlined the controversy surrounding Wagner’s work, which will be the subject of various lectures and symposiums in the run-up to the festival.